A surgeon faces important issues when returning a patient to the workplace, including workers' compensation issues and the need for physician guidance. These patients deserve appropriate diagnosis and treatment protocols, and the other members of the workers compensation treatment team can help maximize the effects of careful guidance by a physician. The speediest possible return to the workplace is usually best for all concerned, the injured worker, the employer and the physician. The treatment team within the workers' compensation system assists in the facilitation and coordination of the medical care and assists in bringing the patient back to work. The team includes the nurse case manager, the insurer, and physical and occupational therapists. Appropriate use of work hardening programs or functional capacity evaluations can be valuable in the return-to-work effort. Physicians who make use of these resources may find it easier to guide this process efficiently to achieve the desired outcome of return to work of the injured worker.